Jimmy Garoppolo left the 49ers’ Week 8 loss in Seattle after aggravating an ankle injury that had bothered him for much of the season.
San Francisco put the quarterback on injured reserve this week, and although the team learned that Garoppolo wouldn’t need surgery, it remains unclear when he can return to the field.
NBC Sports Bay Area 49ers Insider Matt Maiocco postulated this week whether Garoppolo has played his final game in a 49ers uniform. In speaking with NBC Sports Bay Area’s Grant Liffmann, NBC Sports NFL analyst Chris Simms agrees that it’s likely Garoppolo’s time as the 49ers’ franchise quarterback could be coming to an end.
“I just think with the way last year ended in the Super Bowl, the flirtation with Tom Brady, and then this year,” Simms explained. “He has been injured and everything like that, but it just seems like the same questions are surrounding the 49ers about Jimmy Garoppolo and their love for him and all that. And I can’t sit here and say that the play has been so good that that would be ludicrous.
“I haven’t talked to Kyle Shanahan since before training camp, but knowing Kyle, his expectations, I would think there’s some frustrations there with how the offense has looked at times and what he expects out of quarterback play.”
Over 31 games with the 49ers since being acquired in 2017, Garoppolo has completed 67.5 percent of his passes for 7,352 yards, tossing 46 touchdowns along with 26 interceptions. As more and more NFL teams invest in mobile quarterbacks like Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson and Justin Herbert, more set pocket-passers like Garoppolo are fading out of popularity in league circles. Shanahan has experience with a mobile quarterback, as he helped Robert Griffin III win Rookie of the Year in 2012 for Washington.
“If you could get a guy that has a little bit of a running ability to go along with hey, he can extend a play and scramble, he can run boots and play actions.
“But also, just has the little added ability of woah, if he keeps the ball on the read option or if we design one quarterback run play for him on a weekly basis, this could really stress a defense out. Yeah, I think Shanahan would have a field day with that type of quarterback.”
In what is expected to be a deep class of quarterbacks, the 49ers potentially could select one of a multitude of young quarterbacks that can make plays with their legs, like BYU’s Zach Wilson, Ohio State’s Justin Fields, North Dakota State’s Trey Lance, or Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, although the 49ers likely would have to secure the top draft pick in order to get Lawrence.
Other current NFL players like Matt Ryan or Kirk Cousins also have been tossed around as quarterbacks who previously played under Shanahan and experienced great success within his scheme.
For the rest of 2020, Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard likely will be under center for the 49ers, unless Garoppolo can work his way back quickly. But if the 49ers fall fully out of playoff contention, it might make sense to shut Jimmy G down and start preparing for making a change at the game’s most important position.